With the Oct. 13 season opener only a couple of weeks away, the Wild are getting closer to figuring out what their actual roster is going to look like.
After mixing and matching the groups throughout training camp, the Wild had 24 players on the ice for Friday’s practice at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul.
It felt very close to the NHL roster the Wild will trot out when they host the New York Rangers in Game 1 at Xcel Energy Center.
“We have a thought process we’ve talked about,” coach Dean Evason said. “We’ve practiced with different types of units, and today was likely a little closer.”
The fact that Marco Rossi and Calen Addison were both a part of that group felt significant. It indicated that both prospects appear to have the inside track at making the team out to start the season.
Not that Evason wants them to read too much into that.
“We talk to players all the time,” Evason said. “We want them all to keep competing against each other for the right to compete with each other.”
That shouldn’t be a problem for Rossi and Addison. They made it clear that they aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves. They have both been down this road and they know they still have a lot to prove before they can feel like they actually made it.
“The biggest thing for me is the experience from last year,” Rossi said. “I always say that because last year I didn’t really know what’s going to be expected of me. Now I have more expectations for myself, too, and I know what I have to do.”
“You’ve got to come in focused every day,” Addison added. “It’s never going to be handed to us. They have made that very clear to us younger guys. I just come in and try to prove it and work as hard as I can every day. You can’t take anything for granted here.”
As for Friday’s practice, the main focus was fixing the power play. After struggling with the man advantage last season, Evason noted that there would be personnel changes this season. It looks like Rossi and Addison are going to be part of that.
The first unit consisted of Addison playing the point with Kirill Kaprizov, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek. The second unit consisted of Rossi playing with Ryan Hartman, Marcus Foligno, Freddy Gaudreau and Jared Spurgeon.
Asked about Rossi and Addison getting looks on the power play, Evason replied, “That’s why they’re here, right? That’s what they do. That’s what they’re going to do here.”
“There will be lots of different looks,” the coach said. “You’ve seen our power plays through our games. We think we have a lot of people that can play on our power play. That’s pretty exciting for us.”